Reading the signs: Schwartz moves toward governor run

WIRE FILE PHOTO
Last week, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz resigned as finance chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In this file photo, she addresses a television crew on Election Night 2012.

By Tom Waring

Wire Staff Writer

There have been strong signs over the last few months that U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz was inching toward a run for governor next year.

Schwartz hired the state Democratic Party’s finance director. Her campaign team secured Web addresses that would come in handy in a run for governor. And she took the state’s Teacher of the Year — from faraway Jefferson County — to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Last week, though, she gave the clearest indication yet that she wanted a shot at Republican Gov. Tom Corbett when she resigned as finance chairwoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

No formal announcement is pending, but Rachel Magnuson, the congresswoman’s chief of staff, said Schwartz has received offers of support from across the state.

“She appreciates that support,” Magnuson said.

Schwartz, 64, who served in the state Senate for 14 years before joining Congress in 2005, already has a little more than $3 million in her congressional campaign account that can be used for a run for governor. In addition, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is throwing a fundraiser for her later this month at a Pittston restaurant.

Two Democrats have announced campaigns: John Hanger, former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, and Max Myers, a pastor, businessman and author from Cumberland County.

Other Democrats said to be interested in the race include state Sen. Mike Stack; former congressman Joe Sestak; State Treasurer Rob McCord; and Tom Wolf, former secretary of the state Department of Revenue.

Corbett, meanwhile, is plagued by low approval ratings in voter surveys.

If Schwartz announces a run for governor, there will be a scramble for her 13th Congressional District seat. The district is about evenly split between Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Democrats would be heavily favored to retain the seat.

Here are some of the rumored Democratic candidates for the seat: state Reps. Brendan Boyle and Mark Cohen; state Sens. Stack, Daylin Leach and LeAnna Washington; former City Controller Jonathan Saidel; Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro; and Dr. Val Arkoosh, a health-care reform advocate.

Geography could play a role. Montgomery County is chopped up into six congressional districts. Schwartz, though, is the only Montgomery County resident in the House. Gender could be a consideration, too. Schwartz is the only woman in Pennsylvania’s 20-person Senate and House delegation.